• Olivia Allred

Books to Read While Stuck at Home

I’ve always been a big reader and these past couple of months it’s been off the charts! I haven’t read this much since I was in high school and I had a self-imposed curfew of 7:30 (sometimes 9, but ONLY if I had ballet). Taking all this time to read book after book has, I would say, made me an expert on what everyone should be reading right now. Although I’m in a casual reading phase right now and all the books I have borrowed from both the library and Kindle Unlimited have plotlines equivalent to a made-for-TV drama, I’ll try to get a couple good ones in there, too.

1. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

January, a young woman living somewhere along the East Coast in the early 1900s, goes on an adventure to find her father and basically does everything you could possibly dream of doing—she rebels, she travels to other worlds, she owns a dog. Not only is this book funny and charming, it touches on deeper issues of colonialism and racism. January is smart and determined and she’s living her best life.

2. Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay

This book is a great one for those of us who don’t always feel that we’re doing a good job standing up for the things that we believe in. It’s hard to be strong all the time. Bad Feminist is a collection of essays that looks at the intersections between race and gender, culture, and what it really means to be “good” at anything.

3. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth E. Wein

The Gestapo capture “Verity” after her plane crashes in France in 1943. While writing her confession, she tells the story of her and her best friend, Maddie, and the events that led and followed their accident. Books about WWII are always fascinating, if only because that era showed us the depths that human beings could sink to. Elizabeth Wein is a great author, and her book highlights the friendship between two young women, the devastation of war, and (not to be too cliché) the resilience of the human spirit. I laughed, I cried, I found a new role model. 10/10, would recommend.

4. Biased by Jennifer Eberhardt

This is a great book about all kinds of biases that people have. It primarily focuses on racial prejudice and it includes a lot of scientific research to back its claims. Biased discusses how everyone has bias and that you can’t not have biases—they’re how we see the world. We organize information and increase efficiency by compartmentalizing things. Unfortunately, bias leads to unfair treatment of people of color, specifically black men. The book also talks about how bias impacts children in school systems; for example, teachers often tend to think that black boys are more aggressive and act out even when they don’t. This book enhances your capacity to acknowledge and overcome bias so you can treat people with more fairness.

5. Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin

Jade and her friends are the Mean Girls of their school, but while crashing a rival school’s party Jade is assaulted. The girls then take the phrase, “Don’t get mad, get even,” to a whole new level. This book was nuts. I loved it and at the same time, it terrified me. Jade and her friends basically live out every revenge fantasy out there.

6. The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

Shawn Achor teaches us how happiness leads to success, rather than vice versa. He argues that it is possible to rewire your brain for positivity and optimism, which leads to better health, workplace productivity, and social interactions. (He also has a fun TED Talk based on this book.) My favorite thing about this book is the argument it makes for change. It may not always be possible, but there’s always a chance that things will get better, that old dogs can learn new tricks, and that keeping your guitar closer to your bed will make it easier for you to learn.

7. Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Georgie is married to Neal, but she’s picked her job over their family again and now their relationship is on the rocks. Luckily, she just found a magical telephone that allows her to call Neal, but not present-day Neal because that would be too boring! No, Georgie’s landline lets her talk to Neal in the past, the last time they broke up. She figures if she can’t fix things now, she might as well fix things then. This book is so cute and I’ve read it at least three times. I love Rainbow Rowell’s writing, and Georgie and Neal’s relationship is so charming to read—you can’t go wrong with this book.

8. Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

This book takes a dive into the oppression of women, specifically in Asia and Africa. It talks about religion, culture, and healthcare, among other things. It’s heartbreaking, of course, but leaves you with enough hope for the future that you might actually be willing to get out and do something! It’s been a while since I read this book, but the section where they discuss fistulas and a woman having her uterus jumped on after three days of labor still comes to mind on a regular basis. I can’t really think of another book that made me more interested in maternal health and mortality.

9. Frankly in Love by David Yoon

Frank is in love with a girl that his parents definitely would not let him date, so he pretends to date someone else to get them off his back. Of course, shenanigans ensue. This book is adorable. It looks at first love, cultural differences, and coming into your own, which are some of my favorite things to read about. Frank is a nerd and his adventures are relatable and sometimes cause second-hand embarrassment, as any good book about teenagers does.

10. White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

White Fragility takes a look at how being defensive about race reestablishes and strengthens inequality. This book is confronting and frank. Written by a white woman and targeted at white readers, it challenges people to understand their emotional responses to discussions of race to allow for conversations where people of color aren’t being blamed for bringing up the issue. It illustrates the reasons that people are afraid to talk about race and the anxiety and fear associated with them. In the face of continuing racism and police brutality this book is especially important, but it’s a necessary read even without the current climate.

Since the outside world is still largely unavailable for some people, now is a great time to catch up on all that reading you’ve been meaning to do. Don’t like any of my suggestions? Maybe pick a classic from your AP English list that you’ve been meaning to read since you graduated and start there! Now is also a great time to do some self-educating. Take a break from your regularly scheduled programming of thrillers and romances and get into the real thrillers and romances—climate change, mortality, race, religion, gender, and so on.

Have you been reading anything lately that’s helped you get through the stay at home orders? Have you learned anything new or found a new author to love? We need recommendations!